List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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father; I was going to his house when Mademoiselle de Montalais so kindly
stopped me.  I hope the comte is well.  You have heard nothing to the
contrary, have you?"

"No, M. Raoul - nothing, thank God!"

Here, for several instants, ensued a silence, during which two spirits,
which followed the same idea, communicated perfectly, without even the
assistance of a single glance.

"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed Montalais in a fright; "there is somebody coming
up."

"Who can it be?" said Louise, rising in great agitation.

"Mesdemoiselles, I inconvenience you very much.  I have, without doubt,
been very indiscreet," stammered Raoul, very ill at ease.

"It is a heavy step," said Louise.

"Ah! if it is only M. Malicorne," added Montalais, "do not disturb
yourselves."

Louise and Raoul looked at each other to inquire who M. Malicorne could
be.

"There is no occasion to mind him," continued Montalais; "he is not
jealous."

"But, mademoiselle - "said Raoul.

"Yes, I understand.  Well, he is discreet as I am."

"Good heavens!" cried Louise, who had applied her ear to the door, which
had been left ajar; "it is my mother's step!"

"Madame de Saint-Remy!  Where shall I hide myself?" exclaimed Raoul,
catching at the dress of Montalais, who looked quite bewildered.

"Yes," said she; "yes, I know the clicking of those pattens!  It is our
excellent mother.  M. le Vicomte, what a pity it is the window looks upon
a stone pavement, and that fifty paces below it."

Raoul glanced at the balcony in despair.  Louise seized his arm and held
it tight.

"Oh, how silly I am!" said Montalais; "have I not the robe-of-ceremony
closet?  It looks as if it were made on purpose."

It was quite time to act; Madame de Saint-Remy was coming up at a quicker
pace than usual.  She gained the landing at the moment when Montalais, as
in all scenes of surprises, shut the closet by leaning with her back
against the door.

"Ah!" cried Madame de Saint-Remy, "you are here, are you, Louise?"

"Yes, madame," replied she, more pale than if she had committed a great
crime.

"Well, well!"

"Pray be seated, madame," said Montalais, offering her a chair, which she
placed so that the back was towards the closet.

"Thank you, Mademoiselle Aure - thank you.  Come, my child, be quick."

"Where do you wish me to go, madame?"

"Why, home, to be sure; have you not to prepare your toilette?"

"What did you say?" cried Montalais, hastening to affect surprise, so
fearful was she that Louise would in some way commit herself.

"You don't know the news, then?" said Madame de Saint-Remy.

"What news, madame, is it possible for two girls to learn up in this
dove-cote?"

"What! have you seen nobody?"

"Madame, you talk in enigmas, and you torment us at a  slow fire!" cried
Montalais, who, terrified at seeing Louise become paler and paler, did
not know to what saint to put up her vows.

At length she caught an eloquent look of her companion's, one of those
looks which would convey intelligence to a brick wall.  Louise directed
her attention to a hat - Raoul's unlucky hat, which was set out in all
its feathery splendor upon the table.

Montalais sprang towards it, and, seizing it with her left hand, passed
it behind her into the right, concealing it as she was speaking.

"Well," said Madame de Saint-Remy, "a courier has arrived, announcing the
approach of the king.  There, mesdemoiselles; there is something to make
you put on your best looks."

"Quick, quick!" cried Montalais.  "Follow Madame your mother, Louise; and
leave me to get ready my dress of ceremony."

Louise arose; her mother took her by the hand, and led her out on to the
landing.

"Come along," said she; then adding in a low voice, "When I forbid you to
come the apartment of Montalais, why do you do so?"

"Madame, she is my friend.  Besides, I had but just come."

"Did you see nobody concealed while you were there?"

"Madame!"

"I saw a man's hat, I tell you - the hat of that fellow, that good-for-
nothing!"

"Madame!" repeated Louise.

"Of that do-nothing Malicorne!  A maid of honor to have such company 
fie! fie!" and their voices were lost in the depths of the narrow
staircase.

Montalais had not missed a word of this conversation, which echo conveyed
to her as if through a tunnel.  She shrugged her shoulders on seeing
Raoul, who had listened likewise, issue from the closet.

"Poor Montalais!" said she, "the victim of friendship!  Poor Malicorne,
the victim of love!"

She stopped on viewing the tragic-comic face of Raoul, who was vexed at
having, in one day, surprised so many secrets.

"Oh, mademoiselle!" said he; "how can we repay your kindness?"

"Oh, we will balance accounts some day," said she.  "For the present,
begone, M. de Bragelonne, for Madame de Saint-Remy is not over indulgent;
and any indiscretion on her part might bring hither a domiciliary visit,
which would be disagreeable to all parties."

"But Louise - how shall I know - "

"Begone! begone!  King Louis XI. knew very well what he was about when he
invented the post."

"Alas!" sighed Raoul.

"And am I not here - I, who am worth all the posts in the kingdom?
Quick, I say, to horse! so that if Madame de Saint-Remy should return for
the purpose of preaching me a lesson on morality, she may not find you
here."

"She would tell my father, would she not?" murmured Raoul.

"And you would be scolded.  Ah, vicomte, it is very plain you come from
court; you are as timid as the king.  _Peste!_ at Blois we contrive
better than that, to do without papa's consent.  Ask Malicorne else!"

And at these words the girl pushed Raoul out of the room by the
shoulders.  He glided swiftly down to the porch, regained his horse,
mounted, and set off as if he had had Monsieur's guards at his heels.


Chapter IV:
Father and Son.

Raoul followed the well-known road, so dear to his memory, which led from
Blois to the residence of the Comte de la Fere.

The reader will dispense with a second description of that habitation:
he, perhaps, has been with us there before, and knows it.  Only, since
our last journey thither, the walls had taken on a grayer tint, and the
brick-work assumed a more harmonious copper tone; the trees had grown,
and many that then only stretched their slender branches along the tops
of the hedges, now, bushy, strong, and luxuriant, cast around, beneath
boughs swollen with sap, great shadows of blossoms or fruit for the
benefit of the traveler.

Raoul perceived, from a distance, the two little turrets, the dove-cote
in the elms, and the flights of pigeons, which wheeled incessantly around
that brick cone, seemingly without power to quit it, like the sweet
memories which hover round a spirit at peace.

As he approached, he heard the noise of the pulleys which grated under
the weight of the heavy pails; he also fancied he heard the melancholy
moaning of the water which falls back again into the wells - a sad,
funereal, solemn sound, which strikes the ear of the child and the poet 
both dreamers - which the English call _splash_; Arabian poets
_gasgachau_; and which we Frenchmen, who would be poets, can only
translate by a paraphrase - _the noise of water falling into water_.

It was more than a year since Raoul had been to visit his father.  He had
passed the whole time in the household of M. le Prince.  In fact, after
all the commotions of the Fronde, of the early period of which we
formerly attempted to give a sketch, Louis de Conde had made a public,
solemn and frank reconciliation with the court.  During all the time that
the rupture between the king and the prince had lasted, the prince, who
had long entertained a great regard for Bragelonne, had in vain offered
him advantages of the most dazzling kind for a young man.  The Comte de
la Fere, still faithful to his principles of loyalty, and royalty, one
day developed before his son in the vaults of Saint Denis, - the Comte de
la Fere, in the name of his son, had always declined them.  Moreover,
instead of following M. de Conde in his rebellion, the vicomte had
followed M. de Turenne, fighting for the king.  Then when M. de Turenne,
in his turn, had appeared to abandon the royal cause, he had quitted M.
de Turenne, as he had quitted M. de Conde.  It resulted from this
invariable line of conduct, that, as Conde and Turenne had never been
conquerors of each other but under the standard of the king, Raoul,
however young, had ten victories inscribed on his list of services, and
not one defeat from which his bravery or conscience had to suffer.

Raoul, therefore, had, in compliance with the wish of his father, served
obstinately and passively the fortunes of Louis XIV., in spite of the
tergiversations which were endemic, and, it might be said, inevitable,
at that period.

M. de Conde; on being restored to favor, had at once availed himself of
all the privileges of the amnesty to ask for many things back again which
had been granted to him before, and among others, Raoul.  M. de la Fere,
with his invariable good sense, had immediately sent him again to the
prince.

A year, then, had passed away since the separation of the father and son;
a few letters had softened, but not removed, the pain of absence.  We
have seen that Raoul had left at Blois another love in addition to filial
love.  But let us do him this justice - if it had not been for chance and
Mademoiselle de Montalais, two great temptations, Raoul, after delivering
his message, would have galloped off towards his father's house, turning
his head round, perhaps, but without stopping for a single instant, even
if Louise had held out her arms to him.

So the first part of the journey was given by Raoul to regretting the
past which he had been forced to quit so quickly, that is to say, his
lady-love; and the other part to the friend he was about to join, so much
too slowly for his wishes.

Raoul found the garden-gate open, and rode straight in, without regarding
the long arms, raised in anger, of an old man dressed in a jacket of
violet-colored wool, and a large cap of faded velvet.

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